The Future Leaders Awards program is brought to you in partnership with PointClickCare. The program is designed to recognize up-and-coming industry members who are shaping the next decade of behavioral health, senior housing, skilled nursing, home health, and hospice care. To see this year’s Future Leaders, visit https://futureleaders.agingmedia.com/.
Morgan Matthews, vice president of partnerships for Connections Health Solutions, has been named a 2023 Future Leader by Behavioral Health Business.
To become a Future Leader, an individual is nominated by their peers. The candidate must be a high-performing employee who is 40 years old or younger, a passionate worker who knows how to put vision into action, and an advocate for behavioral health patients and the committed professionals who ensure their well-being.
What drew you to this industry?
The opportunity to work on an innovative model that served the underserved drew me to the industry. I came out of business school in May 2020, a very turbulent time in the industry with lots of things happening in health care. For me, I had grown a bit disillusioned. I saw a lot of health care companies out there scaling up, and some of the biggest problems weren’t being tackled. I wanted to work at a company where I felt like they weren’t tackling just the low-hanging fruit.
Connections Health Solutions just blew me away. Here’s a company that core to our model is seeing everyone on the worst day of their life, not turning anyone away because they’re too violent, too this, too that, not putting up doors and barriers, but actually allowing people that need the treatment to get treatment with dignity at the point of their highest need.
What’s your biggest lesson learned since starting to work in this industry?
The power of advocacy and community is the biggest lesson. I think we’re in a very unique moment in behavioral health, where there is a lot of funding coming in to build 988, mobile crisis response, crisis response centers. All of this recent funding, attention and energy are the culmination of decades of advocacy work. It’s impressed upon me that we’re standing on the shoulders of giants right now.
If you could change one thing with an eye toward the future of behavioral health, what would it be?
Certainly, mental health parity in the commercial payment landscape. I met a woman who worked at a community mental health clinic whose services were funded primarily by Medicaid. Her child had a psychotic episode. She found out that, because she had commercial health insurance, they couldn’t get that child access to the same resources they had within the Medicaid network.
I think one of the things that is most frustrating is when you see inequalities in certain people having access to certain things, other people having access to other resources, knowing no one really gets what they need.
What do you foresee as being different about the behavioral health industry looking ahead to 2024?
We’re on an interesting precipice. Some of Connections Health Solutions’s first crisis facilities outside of Arizona are going to open in 2024. As a crisis facility, the canary in the coal mine. All these individuals coming to us in crisis, and their arrival at our facility tells a story. And it tells a story about how the industry did not meet their needs. As these services launch, we will gain a whole new perspective and a whole new slate of data on patient needs to stay safe and healthy, to give people the dignity they need, and to give people the support they need to stand on their own two feet.
In a word, how would you describe the future of behavioral health?
Present. So often, we try to anticipate what the future will be. Right now, we’re standing in a future that was envisioned by those who did such great advocacy work before us, and we have to grasp it. This is a really unique time in behavioral health because there is so much energy in our industry. We need to really take advantage of it because we don’t know how long this energy will last.
If you could give yourself advice looking back to your first day in the industry, what would it be and why?
My advice to myself would be to understand that we’re not building a service; we’re building an ecosystem. When I first started at Connections, I thought very narrowly about providers, payers, and patients. I’ve come to understand that in behavioral health, when you’re building a new service, you’re really building an ecosystem. It goes far beyond the traditional three lanes you think of in health care. There are families, advocates, city leadership, EMS, state leaders, law enforcement.
So many different communities have to come together and coalesce around developing mental health services that, as a mental health service provider, you’re never just a service provider. You’re an ecosystem builder if you’re doing it right.
To learn more about the Future Leaders program, visit: https://futureleaders.agingmedia.com/.